Monday, January 30, 2006

How was your week?

This comes from The Week Magazine:

Good Week For…
The unborn, after Peaches Honeyblossom Geldof—daughter of Sir Bob and sister to Fifi Trixibelle, Pixie, and Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lilly—pleaded with celebrities to stop giving their children ridiculous names. “My weird name has haunted me all my life,” said Peaches Honeyblossom.

Bad Week For…
The cold case squad, after frustrated French police finally decided to test the age of a skeleton it had been trying to identify since it washed up on a beach two years ago. Carbon dating revealed that the bones belonged to a woman murdered sometime between the years 1401 and 1453. “We think it was pirates,” said a police spokesman.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The problem with public education

In recent years it has become trendy to attack public education. Most critics follow a similar pattern; find the most egregious example of misdeed, present it as standard operation procedure in public education, then make the ridiculous suggestion that private schools will provide salvation. Recently I got into a spirited debate with a know-it-all for North Dakota about the "promise" of private school vouchers. As is often the case, he was heavy on rhetoric but light on fact.

Those of us who actually have experience in public education understand that while private schools serve a very important purpose they are no replacement for a fully funded public education system. Now, thanks to researchers at The University of Illinois, we have the statistics to prove that public schools are not only as good but in most cases superior to private schools.

"Right now the studies seem to show that charter schools do no better, and private schools do worse."

Read more here.

Friday, January 27, 2006

We'll leave the light on for you

With all the discussion recently in MN about the "threat" of illegal immigration it would be important to remember the inscription on what is perhaps the most recognizable American symbol.

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teaming shore.
Send these the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside thy golden door."

I took this photo on June 18th, 2005 while visting New York for Kristin's surgery consultation. I had a window of about 45 seconds to take this photo before the sun moved and the image was lost. I felt very fortunate.

Happy 250th Birthday Mozart

Birth: January 27, 1756
Death: December 5, 1791
Place of Birth: Salzburg, Austria
-1762 Embarked with his father and sister on the first of many concert tours through Europe
-1769 Became honorary concertmaster to the archbishop of Salzburg, a position he retained until 1781
-1770 Produced the opera Mithridates, King of Pontus
-1770 Was made a chevalier of the Order of the Golden Spur by Pope Clement XIV
-1781 The opera Idomeneo, King of Crete was first performed.
-1781 Left his post in Salzburg and spent the last years of his life working in Vienna as a composer and teacher
-1786 The opera The Marriage of Figaro was first performed.
-1787 The opera Don Giovanni was first performed.
-1790 The opera Così fan tutte was first performed.
-1791 Composed the singspiel The Magic Flute

Other interesting Facts:
Mozart's grave is unmarked.
By age six Mozart was composing and performing music.
In 1782 Mozart married the sister of the woman he had unsuccessfully courted several years earlier.
Mozart's full name was Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart.
Mozart's father, Leopold, was a noted composer and violinist.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Current reading list

This is what we are currently reading.

Me: The Middle of Everywhere, by Mary Pipher. A look at the refuge experience in America.

Kristin: Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett. A group of terrorist enter a Vice-Presidential mansion in South America and hold a group of people hostage including a Japanese industrial titan, numerous foreign diplomats and an 18 year old American opera singer.

Emma: The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner. She is working her way through the whole series.

Luke: The Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. He's had enough of the easy readers they give him in kindergarten. He wants to read Because of Winn Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo next.

What's on your list?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

If a train full of meteorologists is travelling west...

This morning the radio weather guy said forecasts called for a high today of 30 degrees. Then he said the current temperature was 36 degrees. Unclear on which kind of math he was using, I called the radio station. Here is a partial transcript of our conversation.

Radio Guy: "Hello."

Me: "The weather guy just said that the forecast calls for a high today of 30 degrees but then he said the current temp is 36 degrees. How does that work?"

RG: "Well you see, its supposed to get cooler today so the temperature will be going down."

Me: "I understand that, but if the temp will be 30 later and its 36 now isn't that the high?"

RG: "That's not really how it works. (Pause) Its kind of hard to explain..."

Me: "OK, So maybe meteorologists use a different kind of math than the rest of us to compute highs and lows but, if its 36 now and the temp is going down, doesn't that mean the high is 36?"

RG: "Well, I guess so."

Unfortunately, I wasn't in my car long enough to hear his next report.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Onomatopoeia, I don't want to see ya*

Recently I have become a big fan of Podcasts. One of my favorites is The Word Nerds. It is described as "a weekly podcast about words, language, and why we say the things we do". Each week features a linguistic theme including related songs and "rude word of the week". This week's theme was Onomatopoeia. In addition to the usual discussion of etymology and usage they featured a survey of animal sounds from around the world. This is a great deal of fun and could consume a whole lot of time.


* Taken from the lyrics to a John Prine song.

Well Behaved Women

This morning on my way to work I passed a woman driving and very large Suburban with a bumper sticker that read "Well behaved women rarely make history". As I glanced up I noticed that she was driving with one hand and applying mascara with the other, face pressed against the vanity mirror. Then I noticed the sizable dent in her left front fender.

My guess is that well behaved women rarely apply make-up at 60mph either.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A House Divided

Kristin and I have been long suffering Vikings fans for years (although I have suffered longer that she). Nonetheless, we have once again been forced to choose replacement teams for which to root. Kristin has had a strange infatuation with Bill Cower and particularly enjoys when he expectorates while berating players, officials and anyone else who meets his wrath. His "enthusiasm" was later parodied when he appeared spitting and screaming at cheerleaders in a Dr. Pepper ad. Thus she identifies the Pittsburgh Steelers as her default team of choice. I however have always had a soft spot for perennial losers. Since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have already won a Super Bowl, I have been forced to throw my allegiance toward the Seattle Seahawks.

For the next two weeks our house will be filled with the sort of drama and tension only those who choose to devote(waste?) time on football can truly understand.

Go Hawks!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Are you kidding me?

Are we really supposed to believe that Nickelodeon and Kelloggs are to blame for this woman's inability to feed her children a healthy diet?

Here's a tip, try saying no.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Velvet Store

Years ago, my friend Dude purchased a velvet Elvis while visiting Memphis. It proudly hung in his living room for several years until one afternoon, in a fit of overzealous commerce, his (now former) wife removed it from its hallowed perch and sold it in a garage sale. He has never fully recovered from this affront and I firmly believe this marked the beginning of the end of their relationship.

Armed with some idle time and an internet connection, I think I may have found the salve for his still healing wounds.

Dude, I hope this helps.

What I did in 2005

For those of you out of the loop, here is a partial listing of Stanefski family highlights for 2005. Please save your questions until the end.

- Kristin and I were in a total of three car accidents between the two of us. In each case we were hit from behind.
- We had to buy a new (used) car.
- After being blown off by a local neurosurgeon, Kristin was diagnosed with a Chiari Malformation by doctors in New York.
- We went to New York for consultation in June and surgery in September to correct the Chiari Malformation.
- Luke began wearing a patch to correct his lazy eye.
- Emma began tennis lessons.
- We skipped the chili party.
- My grandmother developed a blood clot in her brain. Then she broke her shoulder.
- The Lid Twisters got a new drummer.
- Luke learned to ride a two wheeler.
- We only went camping once.
- My nephew Taylor turned 16 years old.
- Our computer crashed before I had a chance to save my digital pictures.
- We went to Las Vegas for Chip and April's wedding. Kristin went again in June for Mark and Jamie's wedding.
- We remodeled our kitchen.
- We had a sewer back-up in our basement forcing us to remodel that as well.
- Our cat died.
- Luke taught himself to read.
- Emma taught herself to swim.
- Kristin got me hooked on Lost and Harry Potter.
- I got an iPod and a new kitchen knife. I can't decide which I like best.
- Emma cut her own bangs.
- We were blessed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I'm Crowning!

This post begins my entry into the blogosphere. The silence is deafening.